West Side Story @ Kings Theatre
Two warring gangs, two star crossed lovers consumed by their belief in everlasting love, unaware that fate as it seems is destined to intervene and tear them apart.
A contemporary retelling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the universal story of the naive couple who believe that their bond can heal the chasm of turmoil dividing two warring gangs, is timeless. Instead of “In Fair Verona” the drama unfolds in 1950’s unforgiving New York, however the story could be set anywhere. Young love may be beautiful but fate is inevitable.
Stephen Sondheim’s musical for the ages, pits two gangs Sharks and the Jets in 1950’s New York, and ultimately at each others throats. One gang, immigrants from Puerto Rico, the other lower class white New Yorkers. Fighting for their right to live in a world that refuses to admit they exist. Both gangs willing to die defending their territory.
Forget New York or Verona, this story could be retold in Glasgow, in two rival schemes on a Friday night, such is the strength of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece.
With less than a year until West Side Story reaches its half centenary, it seems a story that will echo through the ages, and the young cast who admirably undertook such a daunting musical, each performed with aplomb.
It’s the wonder of theatre, providing you with the opportunity to be transported anywhere in time, all without the aid of film, special effects or even multiple sets, the Kings Theatre with limited space and finance managed to transport the capacity audience to another life and another time.
With many of the musical numbers i.e “Maria”, “I Feel Pretty”, or “America” household names, the Paisley Musical Opera Society, weren’t afraid to tear right into them and sing from their hearts. Following on from their previous production “Hairspray”, another notoriously difficult production, it seems the young amateur dramatists are fearless in their determination to bring theatrical masterpieces to life.
There are critics who will complain that West Side Story is in danger of becoming dated for a modern day audience, but it’s hard to imagine a time where a modern audience will fail to relate to tortured young love blinded to their fate. A relationship dead before it’s even had the chance to live.
While there is still love, hope, fate and tragic beauty. There will be a place in this world for West Side Story.